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ClimateWorks Foundation presents Icarus in Flight


  • Apr 28, 2020 4:00 pm


Icarus in Flight is an original chamber work by composer Richard Festinger in collaboration with The ClimateMusic Project.

Icarus in Flight models three human drivers of climate change – population growth, fossil fuel use, and land-use change – over two centuries, from 1880-2080.

The work is comprised of three large sections played without pause: the first representing the years 1880 to 1945, when the data are growing slowly; the second from 1945 to 2015 when growth accelerates exponentially; and the third from 2015 to 2080.

-Population growth controls the average density of musical events over time. In this context, density means the number of musical events in a given time period.

-Carbon emissions control the frequency range of the music, from lowest to highest pitch, increasing gradually from a perfect fifth in the middle register to a span of 6.25 octaves, before collapsing to almost nothing.

-Land-use is represented by the increasing proportion of music that is played with specialized timbres (tone colors), including mainly rapid tremolo bowing, and bowing close to the bridge

In the last section, our future, the controlling data alternate between two greenhouse gas concentration scenarios developed by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a scientific body under the auspices of the United Nations. These two scenarios represent our current path (RCP 8.5) and a path with mitigation action (RCP 2.6). They are named after the amount of extra solar radiation that is retained by the Earth (8.5 and 2.6 Watts/m2, respectively). The path with mitigation action would limit the temperature increase from pre-industrial levels to below 2 degrees C, while on our current path, average temperatures could rise over 5 degrees C by 2100.


Icarus in flight premiere
Kinetech Dance piece, to Icarus in
The Real News Network, Telegraph Quartet interview about Icarus in Flight
The Real News Network, Festinger interview about Icarus in Flight